Absa Cape Epic 2023
The untamed mountain bike race. The tagline for the ABSA Cape Epic resonates more than ever. Recent versions of the event have pushed competitors to their limits. With punchier stages dominated by single track, the Cape Epic has evolved from its formative years.
Riders with aspirations of victory need to have both a big engine and the technical skills to boot. This is evident in the fact that arguably the greatest ever cross-country rider, Nino Schurter has won this race on two occasions. And what’s more, he is back hunting for the trifecta this year! 2022 surprise package and dramatic winners, Speed Company are back to prove that last year was no fluke. Georg Egger and Lukas Baum want to make it two from two. 8 tough days in the saddle will ultimately decide who walks away Absa Cape Epic 2023 champions.
As mentioned, Speed Company took the 2022 overall victory. They dramatically took over the lead on the final stage of the event. 2021 winner and local legend, Matt Beers is back again to fight for a South African victory. 2020 had no event due to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, while 2019 champion, Nino Schurter is back again. Since the legendary Christoph Sauser retired from competitive racing, there have not been many multiple-time champions. This years Absa Cape Epic 2023 is hotter than ever, and there are a few teams that could compete for both individual stages and overall victory.
Cape Epic 2023 Route
The 2023 route follows a similar format to recent years. Kicking off with a short prologue on Sunday the 19th of March, the race then heads to the seaside town of Hermanus. After two stages in the area, the field transitions to the mountain bike play park of Grabouw. After a ‘fun’ day in the area, the race moves back over the mountain to Somerset West. The transition stage is a biggie, with riders having to navigate the notorious Groenlandberg climb before dropping into the finish at Lourensford Wine Estate. The second last stage keeps the teams in the area. The final day’s stage is no cake walk at all. Finishing in Paarl, teams will still have to get through 80km and 2400m of climbing. The Cape Epic 2022 runners-up know all too well how important this stage can be.
Nino Schurter has unfinished business at the Epic. Since winning back-to-back titles, the Swiss legend and his Scott team have struggled for results in Africa’s toughest mountain bike race. This year Schurter is partnering up with the in-form Andri Frischknecht. Together they comprise of a formidable partnership. 2022 runners-up Andreas Seewald and Martin Stosek lost the race on the final stage last year. They no doubt return this year with the intent to make amends. Having held the race leader’s yellow jersey for the majority of the race, the duo knows what it takes to be successful.
Matt Beers and Chris Blevins, representing the Specialized trade team are also in the mix again this year. It would be foolish to write off the recently crowned South African marathon champion in Beers. One does however feel that the reigning champions pose the greatest threat. Based merely on the way they finished last year, the Speed Company racing team of Georg Egger and Lukas Baum are likely the bookies favourites heading into the 2023 event. The young German pair race aggressively, and take any opportunity that arises. They will be hard to beat if they come into the 2023 event with the same form that won them the race in 2022.
In the women’s race, the Songo-Specialized team has taken overall honours in the last 4 editions of the race. Only half of the winning duo from last year in Sofia Gomez Villafane returns in 2023. Her partner this year is the experienced Katerina Nash. Other possible contenders are the Cannondale team of Greete Steinburg and Monica Yuliana, the South African duo of Candice Lill and Amy Wakefield, and roadie extraordinaire Kim Le Court and her partner Vera Looser. It is widely believed that this year’s race is the most open in many years. In fact, only three competitors in the ladies’ field have won a stage previously. It could thus be the perfect opportunity for a first overall victory for a fully South African team.
Absa Cape Epic 2023 – Conclusion
As always, the race kicks off with a prologue on Sunday the 19th of March. This generally sets the tone for the week ahead. Whoever is off form on that first day could be in for a long week of racing. Culminating with a run in to the Val De Vie estate in Paarl, all know that the final stage is anything but a procession. Last year showed that teams ambitious for the overall victory need to be focused from day one through to the end of day eight. As always, the race will showcase some of the best mountain biking talent out there. The is also little doubt that the race for the overall will be as exciting as ever!
Have a look at some of the best betting sites in South Africa for your betting needs. With the Tour de France, Giro D’Italia and Vuelta later in the year it is worth shopping around and seeing who offers the best odds. Why not have a look at our Tour de France 2022 and Vuelta 2022 articles to brush up on some history. Some of the bookies to keep an eye on with the best offers and odds are Betway, Fafabet, Hollywoodbets, Supabets, Gbets and bet.co.za.